Launching Audubon’s Bird Migration Explorer
An innovative platform to visualize scientific data.
Armed with an idea, initial research, and wireframes, The National Audubon Society partnered with Postlight to build a platform for their Migratory Bird Initiative. Their goal was to create a digital experience that aggregated a vast amount of migratory bird data and to share it with users in an immersive, intuitive, and visual way. Like in our previous work with Audubon, we partnered with Blue Raster and Esri to bring this one-of-a-kind platform to life.
The Bird Migration Explorer launched in September 2022, powered by a tremendous amount of science and GIS data.
Designing for interactivity
As we began understanding key users and data, we focused on two main user groups — birders and conservationists — and the theme of exploration. We defined three main maps:
- Migration for each species
- Connected locations where each species travels on their migratory path
- Conservation challenges — areas where species face danger from manmade or natural causes
The result is an interactive digital experience that takes users through stories of distance and danger and encourages them on a path of self-guided discovery.
A complex technical build
This was an ambitious vision to develop a new way to showcase and narrate a vast amount of migration data. It required a complicated technical architecture plan and a lot of collaboration across teams with different expertise.
We worked with Blue Raster and Esri to architect migration data, citation data, and datasets from Audubon’s ornithology partners into a series of features. Collaborating closely with Audubon’s science, GIS, and infrastructure teams, we defined feature-level needs that supported a visually impressive and scientifically accurate interface that engaged experienced users and invited first-time users to explore.
Many rounds of iterative user feedback changed our path, but the destination never moved. The data engineering and technical changes driven by user feedback helped us deliver a delightful and inviting platform for users across the spectrum. Everything we encountered along the way strengthened our partnership with Audubon, our storytelling, and the platform development.
Take a look at our work, check out the Bird Migration Explorer, and let us know what you think!
Nathan Henry (he/him) is Director, Head of Product Management at Postlight. Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story published on Sep 28, 2022.